In 1989, Michigan began the season No. 1 over defending national champion Notre Dame. But Notre Dame, which beat Virginia in the Kickoff Classic, managed to jump idle Michigan in the first regular season poll.

The Wolverines lost five first-place votes by sitting on the couch.

Alan J. Gould, former Associated Press sports editor, developed the writer's poll in the 1930s merely to create some controversy between weeks -- "keep the pot boiling," he once said. The polls, especially the preseason variety that began in 1950, have never been without controversy.

Preseason polls largely are based on what teams did last season and what the preseason magazines predict they will do in the coming season. Most of the magazines are completed late in the spring, long before any team takes the field for two-a-days.

The preseason poll remains based on semi-educated projections that only on occasion have proved accurate. Of the 54 previous preseason No. 1 teams, only nine have won national titles. The 1999 Florida State team was the only program to hold the top spot from the season's start to finish.

That said, the voting scribes usually pick the eventual champion among their initial top 25, if that's anything to brag about. Only six of the past 52 national champions were unranked to start the season, the most recent being Brigham Young (1984).

In 1983, Miami began the season unranked and lost at Florida to open the season. The Hurricanes won their final 11 games to claim the national championship. They were ranked fifth when they faced top-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

A similar scenario would be hard to envision today, when polls have increasing weight in the complicated Bowl Championship Series formula that determines the two teams that will play for the national title.

-- Eric Prisbell

Peter Warrick, Coach Bobby Bowden and Florida State were No. 1 all through the '99 season.